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CeDAR conference will explore dynamics of gender-specific treatment

August 28, 2013
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Now in its third year, a fall conference organized by the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation (CeDAR) at the University of Colorado Hospital has evolved from featuring a women’s treatment curriculum to giving equal billing to both genders.

The “Gender Matters” addiction and recovery conference, to be held Oct. 10-12 in Greenwood Village, will feature sessions that reflect CeDAR’s own progression into more decidedly gender-specific treatment services—not simply offering separate facilities, but using knowledge about men’s and women’s psychological development and their experiences of trauma and recovery to guide its clinical services.

CeDAR executive director Steven Millette explains that the bookend presentations at the conference will feature opening presenter Stephanie Covington, PhD, LCSW, whose Helping Women Recover curriculum has shaped gender-responsive treatment services for women, and closing-day keynoter Dan Griffin, who with Covington and Rick Dauer created an analogous clinical approach for men’s treatment.

Millette says CeDAR moved fully into the area of gender-specific programming at the beginning of this year, and the organization has had to overcome misconceptions and occasional “push-back” in areas such as these:

·        The notion that programs can simply adopt gender-neutral language and thereby believe that they have accomplished what they need to.

·        The thought that separating the genders does not prove to be ideal because it does not resemble the conditions patients will face in society after they leave treatment. “I’ve heard, ‘They’re going to be dealing with these issues in the real world,’” Millette says.

·        Erroneous assumptions about how issues such as male privilege and men’s experiences of trauma should be addressed.

Trauma will be explored from a number of perspectives at the conference, ranging from the clinical to the cultural, says Millette. Other scheduled presenters at the event include Jon Caldwell, PhD, staff psychiatrist at The Meadows, who will speak on the role of mindfulness in healing attachment-related wounds; Kim Dennis, MD, CEO and medical director of Timberline Knolls, who will discuss gender differences in the development of psychopathology and eating disorders; and Ed Cannon, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Colorado, who will address LGBTQ issues and the gender continuum.

Millette says CeDAR is working with the University of Colorado School of Medicine to evaluate outcomes associated with the more fully gender-specific approach to treatment that it introduced earlier this year. He says he believes, “When you provide a process tailored to specific needs, and patients have that personal experience, it becomes a differentiator for you among other programs.”

Also scheduled in conjunction with the conference will be a special Oct. 10 evening performance of the play “Bill W. and Dr. Bob,” about the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The play has been a successful Off-Broadway production in New York since July, and will be shown on the first night of the CeDAR conference at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Denver.